Losing out on years long past

10th March 2000 at 00:00
I WONDER how many retired linguists, like myself, are regretting the loss of pension earnings they have incurred as a result of their choice of subject at university and in their subsequent teaching careers.

Had it not been for a year spent teaching in France as a foreign language assistant, where the experience gained both in terms of linguistic acquisition as well as pedagogical competence was invaluable in my later career, I would not only now be enjoying an extra year's reckonable service towards my pension (that is, equivalent to about pound;1 per day), but I would also have received over pound;1,000 more in my lump sum payment on retirement.

However, teachers' pensions do not recognise such assistantships as reckonable service and languaes teachers, most of whom have voluntarily undergone such training experience, are the losers.

My own case is even more ironic, since I also spent my "gap" year teaching in Germany - another supposedly useful asset for my later career, but this, too, cannot be counted as reckonable service.

In fact, my decision to undertake a (Scottish) four-year degree course, thus reducing even further the total possible number of reckonable years of service, together with the two voluntary, but clearly professionally beneficial, additional years already mentioned, has made me several thousand pounds worse off in retirement than my non-linguist contemporaries.

Dr David Jeffery

27 Woodbury Avenue



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